As we learn more about addiction, we realize how integral customized care is to a successful recovery. Men and women have different socioeconomic experiences and respond distinctly to emotional stimuli, so treatment for substance use disorders should take that into account. When men and women are treated for addiction separately, they tend to feel more comfortable opening up and find the course material is better directed towards their needs.
Women and Addiction
The National Institute on Drug Abuse has released the following statistics relating to women and substance use disorders:
- Women are less likely to respond to nicotine patches when giving up cigarettes.
- Although women are more likely to seek help for sleeping pill abuse, they’re less likely to seek help overall.
- Evidence suggests that women develop substance use disorders more quickly than men.
- Women are more likely to suffer from co-occurring anxiety disorders.
Men and Addiction
NIDA reported the following statistics of men and substance use disorders:
- Men are more likely to develop a severe substance use disorder, although it takes longer for it to develop.
- Men have a higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol or drugs than women.
- Men are more likely to have a co-occurring personality disorder.
Differences Between Men and Women in Addiction
Men and women don’t just respond distinctly to disease as an illness, but they also react differently to substances. Of course, each individual has their own unique responses, and there are exceptions to the rule.
Alcohol is the most frequently abused substance in the country. While adult men are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder, adolescent girls have higher rates of underage and binge drinking. Women are also at risk of developing an alcohol-related disease faster than a man who drinks the same amount.
Studies in animals have shown that estrogen plays a role in dopamine, so females are more susceptible to taking higher quantities and get addicted faster than men.
Women might be more sensitive to pain than men, which is possibly why they develop addictions faster. Women are more likely to become addicted to opioid medication than men, who are more likely to become addicted to heroin.
Men’s and women’s bodies respond differently to ecstasy and MDMA, with men’s blood pressure becoming significantly higher but women being more likely to experience depression after using it.
Men are more likely to incur reduced blood flow to the front of the brain than women, but women seem to develop a substance use disorder faster than men.
Due to these subtle but significant differences in the way men and women develop addictions and respond to alcohol and drugs, gender-specific rehab is an effective way of providing customized treatment.